I do a fair amount of what I call net drifting. I am sure there is at least another term for it (if not, I claim credit for coining it) but what I mean is that I read a news article about something, say wind power, and follow links to people mentioned, organizations mentioned, papers cited, articles recommended, and so on. I often end up with 4 or 5 tabs open and will jump to 2 or 3 new sites within each tab.
I cannot possibly read all this stuff. I admit that. I skim it mostly, trying to glean the important (or interesting) bits from each article. What I find is a kind of incest. No, not the kind that produced that odd cousin in the family somewhere. But an inbreeding, nonetheless. One site cites an article written by another person who then cites yet another article which turns out to have been written by the author of the first site.
For instance, I was reading a Boston Globe editorial this morning about the Cape Wind project... http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/editorials/articles/2009/12/02/cape_wind_obstructionism___a_bad_legacy_for_kirk/?comments=all
This led me to articles and sites that were both pro and con about wind power. Let me correct that; the editorial didn't, the comments did. You don't read comments? You should, there is often more information to be found among the ranting and raving in response than there is in any article.
In any case, wind turbines are interesting to me and so I wandered about checking out people and places mentioned in the comments and then in the articles and sites cited in those comments or when I Googled the names.
I mentioned wind turbines when I wrote about my trip to Los Angeles back in April. They dotted the landscape in central and west Texas as well as a certain valley (Coachella) in California. Impressive things, those modern windmills. Though I shouldn't call them that. Windmills were named that because that was a description of what they did and how they did it.
Windmills were mills (grain grinding systems) powered by the wind. They were cheaper than the energy source otherwise used (humans or beasts of burden) at the time. With the advent of electric generation and motors, windmills went the way of the way of the candlemaker. Quaint and rural and often unused.
Windmills simply weren't efficient. They couldn't keep up with increasing demand, they required a lot of upkeep, and were probably seen as a visual nuisance. Or, perhaps, A dragon for Don Quixote to tilt a lance at. Or a subject for some budding Renoir or Van Gogh.
Today they are gleaming towers of modern technology. And either the saviors of mankind or the new scourge.
I found them praised and vilified by environmentalists, by those in the power industry, by the average schmo on the street.
After having read many things by both sides, all sounding quite informative and knowledgeable, I cannot come to a conclusion on where I stand.
A Night Unremembered
6 years ago